At a time when CEO Elon Musk has been preoccupied with Twitter, Tom Zhu of Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O) and a team of his subordinates have been called in to solve production concerns in the United States, stoking talk among colleagues that he is being prepared for a bigger position.
Two persons with access to the situation claimed Zhu, who oversees Tesla’s operations in Asia, has been travelling to Tesla’s plants in Texas and California with a team that includes Song Gang, the manager of the Shanghai gigafactory. They both requested anonymity because they weren’t allowed to speak to the media.
Tesla’s Shanghai and world media relations departments did not reply to written inquiries for comment. The email asking Musk for statements on the story received no response from him. No one could be reached to reply on behalf of Zhu or Song.
Tesla Shanghai, under Zhu, successfully recovered from lockdowns this year, bringing Tesla in close proximity to its growth forecast for 2022 of 50% output growth. On the basis of projections for the recently concluded fourth quarter, analysts anticipate that output would fall short by closer to 45%.
One of these sources offered that Zhu and other Tesla employees made their first visit to the US in August when the business still had some key management positions open.
The long-delayed Cybertruck, Tesla’s next new model, is one of the tasks completed by the Shanghai crew, based on the statement by the third source.
Model Y manufacturing is increasing at Tesla’s Austin facility, and the Cybertruck is becoming ready as well. Reports revealed the Fremont plant is getting ready to introduce a new Model 3 that will begin manufacturing in Shanghai the following year.
Following his purchase of Twitter in October, some Tesla analysts and investors have expressed worries about Musk’s preoccupation as well as the depth of the executive benches at the electric vehicle manufacturer.
Zhu reportedly assisted in managing the Austin factory, according to Bloomberg this month. Though, two people did claim Zhu’s Shanghai-based co-workers think he will soon be taking on a more important and comprehensive position at Tesla.
According to the message examined by experts, a personal aide to Zhu in Shanghai recently posted farewell poetry on social media in anticipation of the China boss’s new job.
People at the Austin site saw Chinese engineers working in the space designated for the production of the Cybertruck and batteries, according to a third individual with knowledge of operations there. Tesla plans to start producing the Cybertruck in 2019.
Another individual who is aware of their work there claims that Chinese employees have been engaged in Model Y underbody assembly in Fremont, California.
Zhu was pictured grinning with many co-workers on the factory floor as Tesla shared a photo on Twitter on Friday to commemorate Austin reaching a new production threshold of 3,000 Model Ys in a week, which is still less than a third of Shanghai’s weekly output from the previous quarter.
Those who work with Zhu can attest to his comments to Chinese media. The no-nonsense manager, who was born in China but now possesses New Zealand citizenship, prefers Tesla-branded fleece coats and resides in a government-subsidized condominium 10 minutes away from the Shanghai Gigafactory.
Shanghai was on track to conclude the quarter down 36% from the season before due to COVID lockdowns when Musk issued a message in early June indicating he had a “very awful feeling” about the economy, statistics later revealed.
Zhu restarted operations with assistance from Shanghai authorities by requesting that thousands of employees and suppliers remain in the factory for longer than six weeks.
Two people with access to these facts claimed that Zhu chose to remain longer, sleeping at the factory like Musk had done in 2018 when Fremont was having trouble ramping up production.